$138 million budget called 'a blessing'

DOWNEY - As anticipated, after making relatively minor changes as a result of the June 2 budget study session, the City Council Tuesday approved a budget of $138 million for FY2009-10, with police and fire still getting the lion's share (70 percent) of the general fund.The changes include a shift of overtime funds ($35,000) to the School Resource Officer program from within the police department, a minuscule added funding for legislative purposes, and provisions for temporary personnel at both Independence and Apollo parks, offset by decreases in police's field operations overtime hours as well as fire suppression's, and community development excursions reduction. Added to the budget at the last minute was $3,000 in support of the Downey Sister Cities Association's interface with counterpart cities in Guadalajara, Costa Rica, and Ensenada. The net impact of all the changes, according to the city manager's office, is a decrease of $207,000 to the general fund deficit with the provision that the "budget may be amended via Council action at future City Council meetings." All this while a "massive $20 billion state budget deficit" carries the likelihood that the state will borrow $1.8 million in gas tax monies and perhaps $2 million in property taxes from the city. But, like Mayor Mario Guerra said, "Not to worry. We have been blessed…we can draw from our large reserve fund to make sure we keep our services that our citizens demand and expect." The vote was 4-1 with Councilwoman Anne Bayer voting against the budget. In other action, the Council: •After a public hearing adopted a resolution confirming the 2009-10 fiscal year Lighting and Landscaping Assessment District 121, which will allow the city to levy and collect lighting and landscaping assessments according to a schedule structured around seven district zones; in this connection, Councilmember David Gafin asked staff to look into the "continued deficits" incurred by District L; •After a public hearing adopted a resolution establishing a uniform schedule of fees for about 629 fee-based services provided by the city's departments including planning (site plan review, etc.), recreation, library, public works, etc.; •Approved the agreement with Edington, Peel & Associates, Inc. for consultant services in the amount of $50,000 (to continue lobbying efforts in Washington, D.C. especially on behalf of the Columbia Memorial Space Center as well as other projects of benefit to the city); •Approved the agreement with Carpi Clay & Smith for consultant services in the amount of $35,000 to continue representing the city's interests especially with regard to EDA matters (funds for street widening, homeland security measures, etc.; •Approved the First Amendment to the Telecommunications Network Streetlight License and Encroachment Agreement executed with NextG Networks of California, Inc. for the installation and operation of telecommunications equipment upon the city right of way; this amendment, notes the city manager's office, allows NextG to expand their network in the city and work with Engineering on appropriate locations for their equipment, whose basic system is an 18-inch high antenna located on top of street light poles (NextG markets this system to telephone companies such as AT&T and Verizon so that these companies can augment their wireless coverage without the need to construct cell towers); •Approved the amended agreement with All City Management Services, Inc. for crossing guard services, extending their services for one year, including providing staffing for 17 designated locations within the city; the city and the school district agree that this arrangement meets current crossing guard requirements; •Approved a new agreement with Titan Transportation, Inc. while renewing the city's agreements with United Towing Service, Inc. and Doug's Tug to provide vehicle towing and storage services for a one-year period; there is no financial impact on the city, as the service pays for itself; •Approved the submittal of a grant request, via the city of Los Angeles, for the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program FY2009 Local Solicitation; the grant funds are generally used for officers working the Neighborhood Preservation Program as well as for community education programs and special overtime programs aimed at crime suppression and prevention, such as street robberies, auto theft, and burglary; •Accepted the improvements and the maintenance responsibility for the fourth phase of the multi-phased Lakewood Blvd. Improvement (LBI) Project, and approved the final contract amount of $2,352, 362.27, while appropriating $78,379.17 in gas tax funds for the purpose; the city manager's office reports that the street improvements have significantly decreased congestion and improved orderly traffic flow along the worked-on section of the Lakewood Boulevard corridor, as well as improving traffic flow (while at the same time enhancing pedestrian and traffic safety) through the intersection of Lakewood and Imperial Highway; •Adopted a resolution approving an agreement and election to pre-fund Other Post Employment Benefits (OPEB), i.e., health care benefits (medical and dental) and life insurance to retirees, through the California Public Employees Retirement System (CALPERS); and authorized the city manager to perform any and other actions required by CALPERS in conjunction with its agreement with the California Employer's Retiree Benefit Trust Program (CERBT); •Adopted a resolution approving an estimated annual budget appropriations limit for the city for FY2009-10 of $47,327,940; which basically means that certain aspects of the budget cannot exceed this amount; •Adopted a resolution approving the final subdivision map of Parcel Map No. 63281 (11819 Vultee Ave.), approving an agreement with the subdivider calling for it and the city to perform certain improvements within the subdivision, and accepting a subdivision improvement cash deposit as surety; •Introduced an ordinance amending Section 3186 of the Downey Municipal Code reaffirming the speed limit(s) for the city's entire portion of Imperial Highway of 40 mph; •Adopted an ordinance amending Section 4118 of Chapter I, Article IV, of the Downey Municipal Code, regarding sign regulations on public property; the new ordinance imposes fines for the indicated code violations in accordance with the recently adopted administrative citation process, thus putting teeth into the city's sign regulations prohibiting placing any sign (including a political sign) on or over public property or the public right-of-way (ROW); the areas in question include roadways, curbs, parkways, sidewalks, lamp posts, hydrants, electric-light poles, street signs, trees, etc., etc.; and •Issued certificates of recognition to the recent winners of the golf contests between Rancho Los Amigos and Rio Hondo Golf Clubs pros and champions; indications are that such contests will evolve into an annual affair, and involve other parties; in this connection, an ecstatic Guerra was presented with his official certificate for recently making a hole-in-one, even as he acknowledged Susan Domen, deputy city clerk and concurrently president of the Downey Rose Float Association, for her recently earning the designation of Certified Municipal Clerk, awarded to those who "possess pertinent experience and attend extensive education programs." The next City Council meeting will be in conjunction with the Planning Commission starting at 6 p.m. on Monday, June 29 at the Downey City Library.

********** Published: June 26, 2009 - Volume 8 - Issue 10